WORLD NEWS /11 JUN 2019

Jens Ulrik Høgh

We are Having the Wrong Discussion about Hunting Tourism

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I am a hunter and as such, I am naturally not an unbiased source of information about hunting. I therefore strongly recommend that anyone who is genuinely interested in the matter reads the IUCN briefing paper on the consequences of “trophy hunting,” which the organization published to inform EU parliamentarians in 2016.

I know that the thought of hunting as a tool to achieve practical nature conservation results is very counterintuitive to many people unfamiliar with the system. However, I believe that the following points about hunting tourism sums it up – feel free to correct me if you think, that I’m wrong.

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In African countries with well-established hunting tourism (“trophy hunting”), natural habitat and populations of wildlife are typically growing or stable due to the simple fact that using the land as nature reserves with hunting tourism is better business than livestock farming.

In African countries without hunting tourism (“trophy hunting”), there is typically an ongoing loss of natural habitat and declining populations of wildlife because the animals have very little actual value to the local communities.

Most of all hunting tourism in Africa, 80% or more, takes place on former cattle and sheep farms that have gone through a re-wilding process. In South Africa alone, the 9,000+ private game reserves created over the last few decades take up an area roughly twice the size of Scotland. This has created habitat for millions of large wild animals.

No species is under threat because of hunting tourism. It is quite the contrary. Everything is closely monitored and regulated.

Hunting tourism has led to vastly improved conservation status of dozens of species. A few examples are the black wildebeest, bontebok, and the white rhino.

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Income from hunting tourism supports hundreds of thousands of people in rural Africa.

Hunting tourism does not lead to the death of more animals than letting nature regulate itself. Sustainable hunting harvests from a natural surplus of animals.

Money from hunting tourism funds anti-poaching efforts in vast nature areas in African countries allowing big game hunting.

Hunting tourism is simply a part of local nature management. Nothing happens on a so-called “trophy hunt” that is not happening on any given big game hunt in Europe or North America. Only the species differ.

The meat from edible game animals is usually consumed locally. Nothing goes to waste.

Professional support

In December 2018 more than 300 nature conservation professionals from Africa and scientific institutions around the world summarized the situation in a letter to the editor in The Guardian: